Saturday, January 18, 2014

Time to say goodbye

I flew all the way to Regina, and K.B. didn't meet me at the airport, didn't even text me.

I stayed with her best friend for three nights, and still never heard from her. (Though her ears must have been ringing because, Lord have mercy, did we talk about her!)

I talked to all sorts of people who loved her. I even saw her body, but she was not there. There is no way they could have contorted her face into one of her full-body smiles. It would have been horrific.

I saw her children and was helpless to mend their hearts, because she didn't tell me what to say. She would have known.

I listened to the children's eloquent and profound eulogies and thought: oh, K.B., you must be so damned proud of these two, they do you such honour.

I hugged her bridegroom and wished that things were different, tried not to be angry on his behalf that their honeymoon had really only just begun.

I was regaled with stories of kindness, generosity, and weirdness ("How many teapots in her cubicle? Eight?! All with matching cups?").

I spoke to her ex who seemed only just to have really added up the costs of his choices, of what he had let slip through his fingers.

One friend cried as she asked, "How did I not know?" How did she not know that K.B. was really a sister, a twin. And I felt the same: everybody else knew how much she loved me. I didn't give her nearly all the love she deserved.

I saw the home she loved, touched her dance shoes and glittery scarves. I walked through the tiny kitchen and imagined all the love she had cooked up, but there was no yeasty smell of rising bread. I pictured her dancing in the dining room.

I packed a bag full of her shoes, because we shared a ridiculously small foot-size, and I pondered the metaphor of "walking in her shoes." It means I will have to dance more.

And all this time, after these hours and hours of obsessively picking at the wound of my grief, she didn't come.

Because she's gone. And all that is left are the bits of her that are in me, and the bits of her that are in these wonderful, wonderful people. And now I miss them, too, but I'm glad to add them to the circle of my friends. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves:,
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets... Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, 'Here comes one who will augment our loves.' For in this love 'to divide is not to take away.'
My life has been augmented in so many ways for having known K.B. This last one - the gift of more friends, is a surprise to me, and I am so grateful.


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